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As your business expands, so too do the services you’re expected to provide. Customer support is vital, but a small business may not have the budget to provide it entirely in-house. Even larger companies may consider outsourcing their call centre services.
But how exactly do you outsource your contact centre? Is it really a cost-effective solution? And can an outsourced call centre provide and maintain good customer experience levels that fit your business needs?
What is call centre outsourcing?
Whether for financial or strategic reasons, an organisation may decide to outsource their customer contact services to a third party company. Such companies are often known as business process outsourcers (BPOs).
If this company is located in a different country to the one your business is based in, it’s referred to as ‘offshore outsourcing’ Many BPOs host their centres in locations like India, the Philippines and Malaysia.
The BPO will usually assign a dedicated team trained on your products (and to your standards) and who can provide coverage for your inbound call and outbound call requirements. However, some BPOs use a different method, with their call centres handling multiple companies. This is particularly common for smaller businesses, which might not get that many calls per day.
It’s possible to have a hybrid approach too, where you use an in-house team during business hours and outsource to an answering service the rest of the time.
Advantages of call centre outsourcing
Several advantages call centre outsourcing can offer your business.
- Financial savings: As many BPOs are located in other countries, their pricing is often very favourable. This can represent significant savings over in-house call centre agents.
- Technology: BPOs have often invested in the most recent customer contact systems. This means you get the best call handling service without having to invest in the hardware yourself.
- Productivity: Outsourcing your customer support allows you to focus on your core business and competencies rather than spreading yourself too thin.
- Increased service: BPO companies often operate a 24/7 service. This allows real-time customer interactions no matter where your customers are calling from.
- Flexibility: Call volume can fluctuate throughout the year. Bypassing your call handling to a BPO allow for scalability without having to recruit extra staff.
- Expertise: Establishing a great customer service team takes time and money. By outsourcing, you are tapping into established expertise that can deliver great customer satisfaction every time.
Disadvantages of call centre outsourcing
Everything has an upside and a downside, so it pays to be aware of the possible disadvantages of outsourcing companies.
- Control: By outsourcing your outbound or inbound call centre, you relinquish a high degree of control. This can raise concerns about quality assurance and make it more difficult to change processes directly.
- Knowledge gaps: Depending on your products or services, you may want customer service staff to have detailed knowledge of your products. While this can be challenging, you can overcome this hurdle by using training webinars and video conferencing.
- Costs: While outsourcing can be cost-effective, you may find that you have to pay a premium for the very best service. With solutions like cloud-based phone systems removing the need for expensive hardware, it’s worth weighing up the difference between in-house and external contact centres.
- Communication and feedback: There are a few more layers of admin to go through to get quality feedback – it’s not as easy as setting up a meeting with an in-house team. Setting up good communications channels can help with this.
Best practices for outsourcing call centres
Deciding to outsource your customer service is a big decision and should not be rushed into. Here are our top tips to help with that decision:
1. Look at the services offered
Your initial need may be limited to something like inbound calls. However, you may want to expand to things like telemarketing, lead generation, or social media support in the future. Ideally, you want a bespoke service that offers scalability and a wide range of services.
Some BPOs will offer teams of shared agents, while others will offer dedicated teams. A general level of support may only need shared agents, but if you have more specialised support needs, you will need a dedicated team or even a hybrid (part outsourced, part in-house) team.
What security systems a BPO offers should always be of prime importance. Are they cloud-based or on-site? What are the levels of security included in which plan? How do they back up data in case of a system crash? These are vital questions to ask, as you have to ensure that they have sufficient security to protect your customer data.
Ensure that your service level agreement covers everything you need. This should include the exact duties and responsibilities you want your BPO to carry out and what KPIs will be used to measure their performance. You can also stipulate what, if any, services you will retain in-house (for example, more detailed technical support). There should also be clarity on how you will monitor progress and how often things like checks/audits or progress meetings will be held.
Top UK call centre service providers
While outsourcing abroad is one choice, many fantastic call centre providers have their main offices in the UK itself. Choosing a UK-run centre overcomes some of the potential hurdles we have discussed and remains the choice of many UK companies. Here’s five of the best:
- Sykes: With over 10,000 employees, Sykes offers multichannel demand generation and a great reputation for customer engagement.
- Bosch Service Solutions: Dealing primarily in providing technology-related services, Bosch is based in Liverpool and has more than 10,000 employees.
- Konecta: With offices in the UK and 9 other countries (great for global businesses), Konecta has been operating for more than 20 years.
- Williams Lea Tag: With a head office in London, this provider is one of the global leaders in offering specialised services to the financial, professional services, and legal sector.
- Conduent: If you have a chat, social media, or email marketing requirements, then Condunet could be a good fit for you.
How RingCentral supports call centres
As we’ve mentioned, the systems and technology used by a call centre play a big part in how efficient they can be and how well they deliver services. RingCentral has many years of experience providing the best technology to call centres, from cloud-based phone systems to video conferencing.
We recognise and understand the various problems call centres to face and can help resolve them. We have a wide range of solutions that offer up to date technology and scalability so that contact centres can grow with business demand.
Whether you’re an inbound call centre, outbound, or a hybrid of the two, whatever your call centre needs and requirements, we can provide.
Originally published Jun 14, 2021, updated Apr 10, 2023